洋蔥幫 VS 文賢油漆工程行 - 展覽卡
壓克力彩. 畫布, 145X243cm, 2002
質疑, 油彩. 畫布, 72.5X91cm, 2007
他的獨腳仙系列在發展也很奧妙，他原本是早期是畫一隻獨腳仙就站在那裡。後來他將獨腳仙走入山水跟我們日常生活的世界。獨腳仙走入的世界，你會感覺到山、水、雲很自然自在，獨腳仙在上面，那個感覺竟感覺不是孤單的，感覺他在裡面很自在很豐富很熱鬧。因為山一顆一顆, 雲一直飛過去。山的部分, 在獨腳仙系列後來，李昆霖的山變成有母性，就是都像乳房。其實乳房不是偏向情色，它是偏向一種大地的反思。反思大地的問題，整個大地是在撫育我們人類動物。以獨腳仙來講，他表示，雖然大自然有這麼豐富的物產可以撫育我們，但是獨腳仙要的其實只是一點點的而已，所以他的獨腳仙只有一隻腳而已。「我哪需要兩隻腳，我一隻腳就可以跳了。我何必要有手呢？我有嘴就可以吃了，有眼睛就可以看了。」就是把人的形體，恢復到最純粹最簡單的狀態，把物慾回復到一種最基本的需求，精神化。李昆霖至始至終以他的生命角度跟思考型態，去發展他藝術的系列，一直是這樣。
李昆霖在畫圖的過程當中，發生了一件很有意思的事情。就是說，有一天他在畫圖畫得非常集中精神的時候，中途要來洗筆，瞬時看到旁邊好像有一綑草繩。仔細看, 喔夭壽, 是一隻眼鏡蛇。眼鏡蛇抬起頭來，像是在看他畫圖，感覺上。李昆霖看到，就緩緩的站起來，看著牠。因為眼鏡蛇如果你沒踩到他就沒事，他就慢慢的把牠趕到一個小的雜物間，用網子把牠圍起來，就放牠走。因為李昆霖一直對大自然很有感情，平時常常撿種子。對大自然的動物也很疼惜，所以對於眼鏡蛇, 他也沒有傷害牠，只是把牠趕到小房間。但是自從那次以後，我們這些畫友朋友若是要走過去, 都會很注意，看那個眼鏡蛇會不會再跑出來。但是一直都沒有再看到。不過到後來發展的就是說，在李昆霖末期的圖，有很多那樣的意象跑出來。就是說就這樣子跳躍起來飛出去飛過去，我覺得這跟眼鏡蛇的意象也很有關係，所以這件事情給我的印象非常的深刻。
有一件事情讓我非常地震動，就是一生中都不能忘記的事情。李昆霖過世以後，家屬安排要來找納骨塔，安排他的靈位要放在哪裡。但是找過很多地方，都擲沒筊。就是說找的地方，在李昆霖靈前擲都擲沒筊，這讓家屬非常的困擾。眼看出葬的時間要到，一直擲沒筊，不知道該怎麼辦。在那兩天前, 他的家屬就打電話給我說：「王先生，你跟李昆霖是很的好朋友，我看你來跟他說一下，來擲筊看看。 不然一直都擲不到筊，這就快要出葬，不知道該怎麼辦。」後來我就先來跟他的家屬商量，家屬就提出了大約七個地方，七個地方擲筊，看能不能擲到一個地方。然後，他的家屬煩惱說七個地方都擲不到筊，這下就慘了，就無法處理了。所以說那你每個位置都擲七次筊，這樣就有四十九次的擲筊機會，一定能擲得到筊。我說好好好，就將這些順序都排下來，我心裡就有個底。隔天一大早, 我就從新化出發，我就先去買一手海尼根。我一到，就將那手海尼根放在李昆霖的靈前。我就拿香拜，我說：「李老師, 我今天提海尼根來跟你喝酒，而且我今天是要跟你商量，你要葬的地方。這件事我跟你說一下，我覺得最適當的地方是名度壽園。因為名度壽園那個地方，第一，離你太子廟這裡很近；第二，名度壽園過去一點就是木架山，木架山通到新化。這個地方我覺得環境也很好，所以很適合，所以我問你這個地方好嗎？你若好，你就應杯。」說完我就擲筊了。結果一次就應杯, 很OK，所以一次就解決了這個問題。大家都感到很意外，我也覺得很意外，這是我一輩子都無法忘記的事情。
My relationship with teacher Lee Kuen-Lin. He was my teacher and also my friend. In 1999, in the North Park Street in Tainan, there was an art street. My mother lived in North Park Street for a long time. Because my mother was getting older, I went there to see her every Saturday. I also visited the art street at that time. Then one day incidentally, I saw Lee Kuen-Lin teaching students there. I thought the way he taught was quite flexible. He didn’t have a fixed way. Each student used a different painting method. The materials they used were also different.
So I asked Teacher Lee Kuen-Lin, “Are there any restrictions on the age of students here?” “No.”, he said. “If you want to come here to draw. You can be from 3 to 100 years old.” I was so happy to hear that, because I was already over 40 years old at that time. So my age was a little bit old. So after I heard that, I just started to come for the following week. That was our wonderful experience of meeting each other.
Then every Saturday, I came with my painting tools and materials. Because basically I painted oil painting. So I brought some oil paint, pen and turpentine to learn there oil painting. But after two or three times, in the bag of my painting tools appeared one new instrument --- beer. Our class ended at about 9:30. After the class we drank upstairs. The ending time of our drinking became later and later. Turned out to be around 11:00 p.m. or 12:00 a.m. So Lee Kuen-Lin’s wife protested. She said, “Why are you teaching painting until 12 o'clock in the evening?” This was also an interesting thing. And then another person joined us. He was Huang Hong-De. So later we were often 3 people. The drinking time together is a very very happy memory to me.
He had some important ideas. For example we can't paint for showing our technique and plan what to paint because of it. “You need to know first what you want to paint”, he said. “Then think about the technique.” I think it is a very important concept. In addition, about painting he often get stressed that...no matter how you paint, with what kind of methods it needs to have a thickness. You need to make the thickness not just a piece of thin paper. Paper had no thickness.
Basically Lee Kuen-Lin was not like many other teachers who took children to competitions to get good grades and then disseminate them. So he did not have many students. In my memory, around 4 up to 7 people. But the rent there. I remember it was NT10,000 a month plus water and electricity fees. So actually he didn't make any money. Sometimes when there were only 5 or 6 students, his wage was actually not enough. This was also far away from his home. So later on he no longer held his painting classes in there. He moved into his new studio, which was a chicken house before and continued to teach drawing.
I also came with him over here from the art street. Chicken house studio was totally made by Lee Kuen-Lin. It was quite desolated originally. But as an artist, he adjusted it precisely and artistically. Then the atmosphere of the whole chicken house was different. Especially the small ancient wall in front of the chicken house. The iron gate and the fence in front of it.
His place was really wild. Lee Kuen-Lin’s personality was also quite open and easygoing. He could talk about any topic with you. We talked as much as we wanted. Not necessarily talking about painting. We talked about society, politics, family and love. He was a really good listener. He spoke slowly and answered you. Every time we met, there should be beers on the table, because most of us loved to drink. But we would still control ourselves and wouldn’t drink too much. There was music playing while we were drinking.
About the music: When Lee Kuen-Lin drew alone, he played the music he like to listen. If Huang Hong-De was there, he was the person to choose the music. And the songs Huang Hong-De chose were quite weird. But they were quite interesting. At the present moment, chicken house studio is no longer open because Lee Kuen-Lin is not there. But all of us miss that time a lot. We really cherish it.
The name of our painting group. At the beginning it was “Prince Painting Group”. And then it kept changing. Actually the most important members were Lee Kuen-Lin, Huang Hong-De, Hou, Shi-Ting and me. We invited other artists to join us at different times. In fact, most of them are also Lee Kuen-Lin’s classmates and friends of him. Different people joined us in different exhibitions.
One day, Lee Kuen-Lin started to raise cats. When I saw it, I said: “Why do you have such a cute cat!” It kept wandering around there. We wanted to give it a name. We, Lee Kuen-Lin, Huang Hong-De and I, named the cat together. And then suddenly the name “QQ” appeared. So we called it “QQ”. QQ often walked around him to get attention. Sometimes when Lee Kuen-Lin was painting, QQ was grabbing geckos there and deliberately wandering around. Huang Hong-De loved to play with QQ but he was more violent. After he drank he took QQ up from the back foot and looped it like a spaceship. It was quite terrible, so Lee Kuen-Lin pull him down. But it happened only one time. Never again in the future. But later soon… QQ was killed by wild dogs outside. It was very tragic. Lee Kuen-Lin’s tears kept falling down when talking about this.
There was an alley next to the chicken house studio. The alley had many mosquitoes originally and next to it was a brick kiln factory. So Lee Kuen-Lin sorted the alley. Then the place looked quite more interesting. The name of this alley is Rice Cave. It was so long, it looked like a tunnel. And looking at it from ahead, there was a beam of light that shined in from behind.
So we arranged twelve exhibitions. At that time, included Lee Kuen-Lin, Huang Hong-De, Lin Huang-Di, Li Jin-Ming, Huang Bu-Qing, me and many other artists. So we lined all the people up and arranged twelve exhibitions. We even bought advertisements for the first and second exhibitions in the Artist’s Magazine. But after the fourth exhibition of our art group “Rice Noodle Club” everyone started to cool down gradually. We started thinking about changing the group name. What should be our next group name? Once we drank and kept thinking about the new name. When we were thinking about it, someone came in with an onion and started cutting the onion there. So we started thinking about the notion of “cutting an onion” Cutting onions is more violent. So we chose this violent name “Onion Faction”.
“Onion Faction” is a faction. But it was not only a “faction”. Onion has another meaning here:
Painting is like peeling onions. Artists were quite sorrowful. Sometimes no one bought our paintings, so everyone talked about this sad situation together. Our tears blew while we were peeling. But we still continued to peel, continued to paint. And we found out that… onions were empty in the center and this was quite interesting. So our new name officially changed to “Onion Faction”. “Onion Faction” actually only kept for one group exhibition. It was in Lin Huang-Di’s Paint House Gallery & Studio.
However before the exhibition started, there is another story. That is to say, “Onion Faction” wanted to participate in the exhibition in Huashan 1914 Creative Park. And I remember that the curator was Huang Hai-Ming. One night at about 12 o'clock, Huang Hong-De called Huang Hai-Ming. I waked him up and told him that we wanted to participate. Huang Hai-Ming said, “Ok! Just send me your datum to take a look”. Huang Hong-De was a genius. He did not print all the people’s information, exhibition history or works. What did Huang Hong-De do? He wrote a calligraphy, which no one could understand. Just wrote some sentences in a piece of paper. The cover looked quite chaotic because Huang Hong-De was drinking alcohol at that time. He just posted a stamp then sent it out. After three days, he called Huang Hai-Ming again and asked if our datum was ok? I told Huang Hong-De, “What are you talking about? You didn’t write anything inside” So the plan did not succeed.
The official exhibition was at Lin Huang-Di’s place. That time it was very serious. It was also really nice to hold the exhibition there. The exhibition card was also an onion, which was cut into half. That was interesting... but it disappeared later. I mean the group “Onion Faction” dissolved after the exhibition. So we were almost like... everyone works quite well in cooperation. Although the name was changed again and again, the entire core didn’t change. I often think that this was quite a pity. Huang Hong-De also said that we were scattered after Lee Kuen-Lin left. Because the secretary-general is not here. The commander cannot give orders to anyone. So things cannot work out. The group didn’t continue.
Lee Kuen-Lin and Huang Hong-De were not so close at the beginning. They started to be really close since 2002. Lee Kuen-Lin held a solo exhibition at Dog Pig Art Café called “Absorbing and Releasing”. The idea of that at the time... he just has a device hemp and a space. There was a table in that space. His original plan was letting his daughter, Mido, paint there. So he prepared lots of paper to let Mido paint. Before the exhibition began I met Huang Hong-De and told him I was going to see Lee Kuen-Lin’s exhibition. Huang Hong-De said that he wanted to go there too. So I drove him to there, we went together. In the exhibition, Huang Hong-De saw a pile of paper on the table and said he could handle it. He kept painting and painting and put them on the wall. So in the end, his “Releasing” was released by Huang Hong-De. Mido didn’t paint so much. But after that time the two of them became very... Actually, they are complementary. One was bolder and one was calmer. But basically, they were very natural and frank people. So they got along pretty well. Although their painting styles were different, they admired each other. After that day, they were almost always together. Even though there was no group meeting. Anyway, they became quite close.
There was an art competition, a children's art competition. They asked him to be a judge. There were probably 3 to 5 judges. Then Lee Kuen-Lin sat down and saw that there were a dozen painting that looked almost the same. Their color and brushwork were the same. They have to be taught by the same teacher. How did the teacher teach children? A dozen paintings looked the same. So he advocated taking these dozen paintings out. These paintings cannot be selected.
Everyone opened their big eyes and mouth. (They were quite surprised.) Because these dozen were possible the judges’ students. Everyone knows that sometimes judges help each other. This time my students win and next time your students win. Then everyone has students and good business. But Lee Kuen-Lin was quite insistent to take these dozen paintings out and that they cannot be selected. But having said that people dared not to ask him to be a judge next time. This impressed me a lot.
About Lee Kuen-Lin's insistence on the artistic spirit and concept. There was another story. This was quite sensational in the Tainan art world. Once the Bureau of Cultural Affairs, Tainan City Government invited him to an installation art festival during the Christmas and Chinese New Year.
They commissioned many artists. One person was responsible for one place. Some people are in the Min Sheng Green Park. Some people in the parks and seaside. Lee Kuen-Lin was responsible for the Tainan train station. It is one of the indicator places of Tainan City. But his work was actually packaging the statue in front of the train station, the one holding a football. Everyone said that the face of this statue looked like Su Nan-Cheng. In fact, I also though that it looked like Su Nan-Cheng. He used light green wide cloth packaging the statue from the bottom to the top. After packaging, it looked like many bulks. It looked like stacking many pieces of stone in a three-dimensional way. After wrapping up, he inserted a star at the top.
Then the exhibition started. Many people called the Bureau of Cultural Affairs and the Cultural Bureau can't hold it up so they told Lee Kuen-Lin to change his installation artwork or many people would curse it. Lee Kuen-Lin thought, “Why should I change it?” “That is my artwork.” So at the end both of them made a concession. Lee Kuen-Lin didn’t change anything on the light green wide cloth. Just took the star down to solve this problem. But after that time, the Bureau of Cultural Affairs started to be afraid of allocating public installation art to him. This was also a special story about his insisting principles.
The other one is... Because Lee Kuen-Lin was the most handsome and the tallest, sometimes when we went out to drink some ladies would just sit directly beside him. Well… it was quite interesting because Lee Kuen-Lin just sat up straight and looked ahead. He just drank and ignored them, totally uninterested. As a result, the ladies felt very bored and ran away. That was his personality. It was to say that his principles were always kept very clear.
In fact, many painters and writers we know stressed that they wanted to maintain their style. Keeping style is very important, but there is also a disadvantage. Some people spend 30 years or 40 years or even their lifetime drawing the same thing. The painting they draw, color, shape and even the theme, decades like a day. Then I feel it’s very boring to watch them for a long time. It’s good to see one. But when it’s more, you would feel one hundred pieces are the same as one. However, Lee Kuen-Lin is just the opposite. He created a new painting style almost every period of time. Sometimes it would change a lot compared with the last period. Of course, the material he used mainly acrylic color and oil painting when painting on a plane. But the contents were different in batches.
Each series of his works had a name. For example, in the series “Imprint”, all the paintings are quite straight, like stamps. Once the series “Parallel Flying Clouds” appeared. There were acrylic color... half-painted, half-drench and clouds flying around. Sometimes the painting showed his sketching technique. They were carved one by one, quite nearly. He did a big change on the last series before he passed away. With the “The One-Legged Deva” series there was a large change in it. So, this expresses his creative thinking.
He always thought about different issues. He thought about the problems of life. He appealed to a different way of expression to draw what he thought. This just fitted what he advocated. That is to say, according to the theme he wanted to paint and express, then used this technology. But having said that... Although he kept changing his painting style and technique, there was a common thing in his artwork from start to finish.
This common thing was... he had a kind of “loneliness” that he insisted. This loneliness was inside his artwork and also his insistence was in the artwork. And the way he conducted the brush over the canvas, actually, they also had common points. Although the “One-Legged Deva” series was painted around the years before he passed away. In addition, there were hints building up to it.
In fact, the image of One-Legged Deva’s foot appeared in his sketch painting “loneliness” when he was quite young. One foot is standing on the land, this simple image. It is equal to the prototype of his life, which let us feel that he was a very pure person, quite simple in dressing, eating, and living. He concentrated himself into creating artworks, so his life requirements were very basic and simple. For example, I always saw him riding a broken motorcycle and wearing a very old jacket. I said, “Your clothes are so old.” “Don't you have any other clothes?” That is to say, his personal life was really simple. A very simple spiritual performance which was expressed onto his One-Legged Deva.
So I would say that his basic creative spirit was from his young to middle-age. All of them were running through. No matter if he changed them into the “Imprint” series, “Parallel Flying Clouds” series or any other. In fact, his spirit was the same. The development of his “One-Legged Deva” series was also quite marvelous. He painted just one One-Legged Deva at the beginning. A One-Legged Deva stood there alone. Later, he walked into the mountains (with his feet) into the world of our daily lives. In the world that One-Legged Deva walked into, you would feel that mountains, water, and clouds are very natural and comfortable. A One-Legged Deva stood there. That feeling was unexpectedly not lonely. I feel that he was really comfortable and lively there because the mountains were one by one, and the clouds kept flying away.
Later in the “One-Legged Deva” series Lee Kuen-Lin’s mountain became very motherly. They all looked like breasts. In fact, the breast is not biased towards erotic. It was a kind of introspection about the earth, rethinking the issues of the earth. The whole earth is raising human and animals. In terms of One-Legged Deva he said that although nature has such a rich variety of properties that can nurture us. But the One-Legged Deva wants just a little bit out of all of it. So his One-Legged Deva has only one foot. “Why do I need two feet? I can jump with only one foot. Why do I need hands? I can eat if I have a mouth. I can see things with eyes.” That is, to revert the human form to a purest and simplest state. Take all of the material desires and turn them back into the most basic needs and spiritualization. Lee Kuen-Lin always had his outlook of life and thinking ways to develop his art series. All of them had had this concept.
I had been in contact with Lee Kuen-Lin for a long time. And the times we were together were also quite long. So many of my earliest works were seen by him. Some of his paintings hang on my wall. So of course, it’s very emotional when I look at his paintings. And... Whenever we sat down together, the first thing we would do was open a beer. Actually, I rarely drink now. But now when I look at an open beer, sometimes I think of Lee Kuen-Lin because it was wonderful to drink with him. And if I go to the beach, sometimes I would see driftwoods. Driftwoods are beautiful. Then I would think if I gave them to Lee Kuen-Lin to combine them together. It could become a very artistic artwork. So I would immediately think of him when I saw driftwoods.
During the time Lee Kuen-Lin was drawing, a very interesting thing happened. Once while he was painting quite concentrated and wanted to wash a brush. Suddenly, there seemed to be a bundle of straw ropes. And he looked more carefully, oh my god, it was a cobra. The cobra looked up. It looked like that it was watching Lee Kuen-Lin painting. He saw the cobra and then slowly stood up. Because he would be safe from the cobra as long as he didn’t step on it. Lee Kuen-Lin slowly took him to a small utility room. Enclosed it around with a net and let him go. Lee Kuen-Lin was always quite affectionate about nature. He often picked up seeds and also cherished small animals. So he didn’t hurt the cobra, just put it into to the small room But since that time when we walked through there, we would pay attention. Because we were afraid that the cobra would run out again. But it never appeared again. However, later on the development was like…at the last period of Lee Kuen-Lin's paintings, there were many images running out. That was to say, they just jump up and fly out, fly over. I feel that it also had something to do with the image of the cobra. So this thing gave me a very deep impression.
There was one thing that really shocked me. It was the thing that I would never forget for my lifetime. After Lee Kuen-Lin passed away, the family started looking for a columbarium and making the arrangements of where he would rest his spirit. They asked Lee Kuen-Lin many places by rolling the poe divination but couldn’t get an answer of agreement. This is to say that whenever they would find a place and ask via divination, the answer would not be definite. This troubled them a lot. The time was running out, but he didn’t say yes to any place they chosed. They didn't know what to do. In the last two days, his family called me. They said, “Mr. Wang, you were a very good friend with Kuen-Lin. Could you please ask him about the columbarium by rolling the poe divination? Otherwise, we are left without an answer. He is about to be incinerated, we don’t know what to do.”
Later, I discussed with his family. They had suggested around seven different columbarium. Seven places. They had yet to roll a Poe divination successfully at a place. They were worried that all of them would be negated. Then it would be an awful situation. They could not handle it. So they asked me to roll each placed seven times Poe divination. Then there were forty-nine-times chance. And then there was a chance of definitely succeeding. I said, “ok, ok” Then put these sequences down. And there was an idea in my heart. Next day in the early morning, I set off from Xinhua and went to buy a dozen Heineken first.
When I arrived, I put the Heinekens in front of Lee Kuen-Lin’s funeral hall and took incense to pray. I said, “Teacher Lee, I am here to drink Heineken with you and I want to discuss where you are going to be buried with you. About this topic, I want to tell you something. I think the most appropriate place is Mindu. Firstly, because it was very close to your Prince Temple. Second, Mindu is near Wooden mountain and extends from Wooden mountain to Xinhua. I think the environment there is very good and suitable. So I want to ask you if this place is acceptable? If you think it’s a good idea please give us a sign of agreement.”
So after telling him, I rolled the Poe divination. Then he agrees at the first time. It was quite ok. So I solved this problem in just one try. Everyone was surprised. I also felt quite surprised. This was the thing that I won’t be able to forget for my lifetime.